The 10 best survival horror games

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Image via Capcom

Survival horror is typically characterized by heroes who have to face a threat while armed with very few weapons and scant ammo. Within that definition, there’s a lot of room for experimentation. Survival horror games can take us to haunted houses, space stations, and everywhere in between. That also means that finding the best ones can be tricky.

Here you’ll find our picks for the 10 best survival horror games out there. They’re presented in alphabetical order, and do note that we stuck with just one title from major franchises. Otherwise, this list could have just been 10 Resident Evil games.

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Alien: Isolation

Image via Sega

It says a lot that a licensed game can make this list, but Alien: Isolation genuinely manages to capture the atmosphere of the original movie. Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda is out to find the truth about her mother, and she’ll have to tangle with murderous Xenomorphs along the way. Better make good use of that scanner, because they can come out of the walls.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Image via Frictional Games

Amnesia wasn’t the first horror game to be set in first-person or to put nothing but a lantern in your hand, but this 2010 title was still a watershed moment for the genre. Since then, there have been endless indie games that have ripped off its mechanics, forcing you to hide from the monsters rather than face them head-on. Trust us, you don’t actually want to look at them.

Dead by Daylight

Image via Behaviour Interactive

This isn’t the only multiplayer game on this list, but it is the only one with an asynchronous design. One player takes on the role of a killer, while everyone else teams up to survive the night. Funny enough, it’s crossed over with several other games on this list, with characters from Resident Evil and Silent Hill appearing on its roster. It also has a dating sim spin-off.

Dead Space

Image via EA

Over the years, survival horror games started to lean heavily in the action direction. Dead Space turned that idea on its head: you had guns and ammo, but you had to line up specific shots to dismember your alien enemies and survive. The 2023 remake ought to be an equally wonderful and horrifying return to this modern classic.

Outlast

Image via Red Barrels

Outlast is a full-on franchise now, but it all started with one game that sent you through a terrifying insane asylum. Armed with only a camera, your goal was to find the truth of what happened at this place — while running from its murderous inmates of course. There are many scary sub-genres out there, and Outlast isn’t afraid to dabble in body horror in one particularly sensitive scene.

Phasmophobia

Image via Kinetic Games

Phasmophobia has had a perpetual spot on the Steam most-played list since it launched — there’s a reason it’s on our list of the best indie horror games too. This is a co-op experience, so you and your friends can go on ghost hunts together, tracking down various spirits in a variety of locations. No matter where you are, you’re still in danger if you don’t treat the ghosts with respect.

Resident Evil 2

Image via Capcom

Picking a single Resident Evil game for this list is difficult. While next year’s Resident Evil 4 Remake could take the top spot, it’s the remake of 2 that deserves attention. Many fans already consider 2 to be the best, so remaking it with 4’s controls and 7’s quality-of-life improvements is a win-win. It also makes Mr. X, one of the best Resident Evil villains of all time, an even more terrifying stalker.

Silent Hill 2

Image via Konami

Picking a Silent Hill game is easier — 2 is largely considered to be the best one. Konami hit its stride with the sequel, sending James Sunderland to the cursed, foggy town in search of his missing wife. This was the introduction of Pyramid Head, who’s now synonymous with the series. The jury’s still out on Layers of Fear developer Bloober Team remaking this one.

Soma

Image via Frictional Games

Frictional Games takes two spots on this list. Five years after Amnesia, the team created Soma, a horror experience set in an underwater research station. That’s already a rare enough setting for a horror game, so dealing with ocean dangers on top of the usual creepy creatures takes this one to the next level. No spoilers here, but the shocking ending still has people talking.

System Shock 2

Image via Nightdive Studios

We’ll bookend this list with more sci-fi. If you like BioShock (arguably a survival horror game itself), then you owe a lot to System Shock 2. The gameplay mechanics, the naming convention, and even the twist ending all have roots here. There’s a reason survival horror fans have been patiently waiting for a remake of the original for quite a while now.